The Story of Little Zayd
The Guests’ Biscuits
Mawlana Ḥayder Ali Madani
The tea was brewing on the stove as Mother placed biscuits and snacks on a tray. Little Zayd was seated in the kitchen and had begun asking questions about something that had just happened. A little time before this, Aunt and her young son had arrived in their home. This was the first time that Little Zayd had seen the boy. Mother’s face was glowing, suggesting that they were close family. This was the reason why Little Zayd was now sitting with Mother in the kitchen. He wanted to find out why she was so happy!
“Who is this Aunt?” asked Little Zayd.
“Son, she was our neighbour. She used to live in the house next to Aunt Zubaida’s in the alleyway in front of us,” replied Mother.
“But I have never seen them living here. Numan goes to the same school as me, and he lives next to Aunty Zubaida.”
Mother smiled. “You were only a year old,” she explained, “when they used to live here, but her husband was transferred to another city because of his job. It has been a long time since they last came here, so let’s meet them. Leave the questions for now and keep her son company. His name is Ali.”
Little Zayd started playing with Ali in the courtyard outside, when Mother called out, “Ali, come inside to your mum. The tea is ready!”
Ali went to the living room and Little Zayd went to Sister. Sister asked, “Have the guests left?”
“Mother has just taken the biscuits to them,” replied Little Zayd.
Sister then said, “I am telling you now; we will equally split the leftover snacks and biscuits that come from the guests! You ate everything last time like you’d never eaten before!” She then returned to her homework.
“Okay, okay. Let it come first,” said Little Zayd. Seeing Sister doing her work, he thought to himself it would be better for him to go to Grandmother.
Grandmother had returned to her room after sitting with the guests for a short while. Little Zayd went to her room and began to speak with her. After a long time, Mother came inside. Little Zayd asked, “Has Aunty gone?”
“Yes.” Mother had not yet finished her sentence when Little Zayd leaped from the bed and ran to the kitchen, but Sister had beaten him to it. Despite hurrying, it seemed as though he had still arrived too late, because the plate was empty. Overcome with anger, he was just about to argue with her when she explained, “Just listen for a moment. The guests returned the plates empty.” Saying this much, they both began to walk towards Grandmother’s room in disappointment.
“Was this any kind of way to leave, Little Zayd? Did some calamity strike?” asked Mother.
“I thought that Sister would eat all the biscuits and snacks, but how did I know that Ali would be so hungry that he would finish all of them. I think if you had put another plate, that too would have returned empty,” complained Little Zayd.
“We do not speak like this, son. They were our guests.”
Hearing these words of Mother, Little Zayd continued complaining, “Being guests does not mean they can eat all of our biscuits!”
Grandmother thought it was an appropriate time to join the conversation, so she called Little Zayd closer and explained:
Guests are a mercy and a blessing. We should not be upset when we see them. We should not be stingy with our food when hosting them. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “When a guest visits a person, he brings his own sustenance, and when departing, he becomes a means of forgiveness for the host’s sins.” Meaning whatever a guest eats, it is actually his own sustenance. Anyway, good people do not speak bad about others when it comes to food.
Seeing Little Zayd’s lowered face, Mother understood that he felt guilty for his mistake. She lovingly said, “I had already put aside some biscuits for you both. Come with me.” Little Zayd and Sister became overjoyed after hearing this.
 Kanz al-ꜤUmmāl, juzz 9, vol. 5, p. 107, hadith: 25,831